To celebrate a year of accomplishments and look forward to new challenges, staff members attended a special advance showing of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" as a team Thursday night, with some special guests in attendance.

Sensing that a department filled with technology experts was the perfect audience for the latest "Star Wars" installment, UAB IT rented a theater for the event and invited not only employees but their family and friends as well as UAB leadership and mascot Blaze, who wore his Jedi robes for the occasion.

"You are indeed a force awakened," Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. told staff members and their guests. "What you have done this year is remarkable. UAB IT does not exist in a vacuum, and everything that we do is in support of UAB's mission. We're here to empower students, faculty and staff. This is an opportunity to thank our constituents, our staff and the family members who support our staff members who work long hours to help make UAB great." 

UAB IT has had a year filled with accomplishments to help better the UAB community, from a small technology tweak that helped increase donations for the university's Annual Giving campaign to new cloud storage options. In addition, UAB IT is building a stronger research computer network that is 10 times faster and has introduced more robust password security with a longer lifespan for passwords.

For details on some of UAB IT's projects over the past several months, look at our monthly IT Update newsletters and Carver's 100-day letter to campus. And for a more lighthearted look at the department's accomplishments, our holiday greeting video showcases the "12 Days of the Holidays with UAB IT."

Spoiler alert: The movie is great.
An email upgrade being rolled out for UAB faculty and staff this week will support much larger mailbox sizes.

Faculty and staff members will be transitioned to the new email system gradually over the coming weeks.

In addition to the larger email storage space, users will see a new interface when logging into email accounts through a web browser. The look and feel will be closely aligned to what students see in their Office 365 email accounts.

In the new interface, users should note that the Calendar, People (previously called “Contacts”) and Tasks will be in the upper right-hand side of the interface, rather than the lower left-hand side.

OWA2013 mailboxClick image for larger view.
Users will also see a new login page for the Outlook Web App.

OWA2013 loginClick image for larger view.

It will take several weeks to transition all faculty and staff email accounts to the new system. Users should not see any changes to their email when using the Outlook application, other than the increased storage space.

Among the new features of the Outlook Web App:

·      Inline composing, which allows users to quickly compose and reply to emails without popping out a new window

·      Forgotten attachment reminder, which tries to detect whether you intended to include an attachment (by interpreting an email you typed) and pops up a reminder if you click send without including the attachment. This feature works with recent browsers such as Internet Explorer 9 and above.

·      The Outlook Web App comes with three apps installed: Bing Maps, which adds a Bing tab with a quick link to a map if an e-mail message contains a street address; Action Items, which creates a suggested Task for the user to review if an email suggests a possible action; and Suggested Meetings, which suggests an appointment be added to the user’s calendar if an email has an offer to meet.

·      Email actions allow users to hover the mouse over an email they want to delete and see new icons to the right-hand side of the email: delete and flag. This makes it easier to delete emails without having to select them first.

UAB IT will be rolling out Internet Explorer 11 to its Desktop-supported customers beginning Wednesday. Microsoft will no longer be supporting earlier versions of IE beginning in January, making those earlier versions of the browser a security risk.

IE11 works for all of UAB’s enterprise systems except for IRAP, the Integrated Research Administration Portal. IRAP users can visit to see how best to access the system.
Ellis ShawnShawn Ellis has joined UAB IT as associate vice president and chief technology officer. 

Ellis has a broad background in information technology, with a career spanning 20 years in industries including higher education, finance, defense, and space and scientific instrumentation.  For the past eight years, Ellis has held several executive technology leadership positions at the University of Georgia, where he has most recently been interim associate chief information officer. 

“Shawn brings a broad range of experience that will help us serve the university community’s technology needs and enable world-class performance at UAB,” said Dr. Curt Carver, vice president and CIO.  

“I would like to thank the members of the search committee for their hard work identifying excellent candidates for the position,” Carver said. 

The committee was chaired by Dr. Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering.  Members included Alecia Jones (Human Resources), Stephanie Mullins (Financial Affairs), Michelle Hussey (University Advancement), Patricia Higginbottom (Lister Hill Library), Tommy Foley (Engineering), Don Fast (HSIS), Dr. Purushotham Bangalore (Computer Science), and UAB IT's Bob Cloud and Phillip Borden.

Ellis holds a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from Nova Southeastern University and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia College and State University. 
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